Well, I already knew that L.B. could write a mean paranormal thriller, but the question was whether or not she could pull off a cozy - something much more lighthearted and fun than her usual hard-boiled fare. No worries - it's as if she's been writing about Stoneham, the Safest Town in New Hampshire, and its interesting inhabitants all her life. Cozy lovers should definitely add the new Booktown Mysteries to their not-to-be-missed lists!
Tricia Miles is a successful businesswoman who moved to the safe little village of Stoneham, New Hampshire following a painful divorce. As part of a downtown renovation project to revitalize the village, Tricia and several other booksellers were wooed to open up shop along Main Street. The new businesses helped give the town a new lease on life - but too bad for Doris Gleason, owner of the The Cookery, it didn't work both ways! While Tricia is giving her sister, Angelica, the 50-cent tour of her new digs, they discover the body of the recently deceased Doris - with a knife sticking out her back.
As it turns out, Doris hasn't exactly endeared herself to the other booksellers, or anyone else for that matter, so there is an abundance of people who disliked her, although circumstantial evidence starts to point toward Tricia as a possible suspect. Tricia continues to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as Stoneham's nickname, the Safest Town in New Hampshire, becomes more and more of a misnomer.
The entire book is wonderfully descriptive, the characters fascinating and 3-dimensional, the plot exquisitely complex, and L.B.'s painstaking attention to detail doesn't go unnoticed (check out the facade of Haven't Got a Clue on the cover)! In addition, there is the added bonus of Tricia and Angelica's interesting and complicated sibling relationship. The way they were able to put aside past history to work together when push came to shove was touching. It made me ache for the company of my own sisters!
There are an awful lot of new series to choose from in the cozy mystery subgenre these days, but if you're debating about which one to add to your TBR pile, I'd recommend putting Murder is Binding at the top!
Carol Ann H. 4/7/2008
First Line: "I tell you, Trish, we're all victims."
Stoneham, New Hampshire, was a dying town until real estate entrepreneur Bob Kelly got the idea to turn it into a "Booktown" modeled after Hay-on-Wye in the UK. Divorcee Tricia Miles decided to folllow her dream and moved there six months ago, opening a mystery book shop called Haven't Got a Clue and living in a loft apartment on the third floor. She's made a friend or two, but her next-door neighbor, Doris Gleason, isn't one of them. Doris, owner of The Cookery, sells cookbooks but finds business is tough. (Probably because she never read How to Win Friends and Influence People.) When Tricia finds The Cookery on fire one night and stumbles over Doris's body, she immediately finds herself as the local sheriff's prime suspect, and it's up to her to clear her own name.
Murder Is Binding is a promising start to a new cozy mystery series. Having been able to wander around Hay-on-Wye on my own for almost an entire day, the idea of a "booktown" in a small New England village appealed to me. Tricia is a likable character, and it's interesting to see her slowly change from a big city dweller to someone who lives in a small town. Her employees, her cat (Miss Marple), and some of the townsfolk are well-drawn and interesting. And with the arrival of her hated older sister and their strained relationship, future books are set up to explore these sibling dynamics. However, the weakness in the book is the plot. At first Tricia seems to choose her suspects by whether or not she likes them, and she didn't really strike me as that naive. It was too easy to figure out whodunit, and the ham-handed small town sheriff is a convention so old that it creaks.
Although there are some problems with the plotting, the setting and the characters--the strongest draws for cozy mystery lovers--are there and are very good. I'm looking forward to seeing what Barrett does in the next book in the series.
[Note: I forgot to mention that recipes are included in the back of the book. If you love to cook, it certainly wouldn't hurt to take a look at them. On the other hand, I hate to cook, which is probably why I forgot to mention them in the first place!]
This is a strong beginning to the Booktown series, and a cozy lover's dream! A small New England town dedicates a whole village to bookstores, each with a theme (mysteries, cooking, etc.). Rare and unique editions are the town's bread and butter, and when it appears that someone is murdered for a rare cookbook, the owner of the mystery book store becomes a suspect. There are lots of colorful and diverse characters, as well as several subplots in this book that make it very interesting and a fun read.
I am a big fan of books in general and love the "Cozy" mysteries, so I was looking forward to reading the first of the Booktown Mystery series. I'm sorry to say I was disappointed. One of the best things about cozy mysteries is a cast of characters you enjoy spending time with and I found almost every character in this book to be un-likeable. The sheriff was one-dimensional and there was very little substance to any of the other characters. I got the feeling the author really didn't know where she wanted to go with the story until about half-way through; several of the main characters had personality changes partway through the book that left me cold. I agree with a previous poster that the sibling rivalry was much worse in Tricia's mind than in reality and kind of thought she was being immature and whiny about it. I may read the second in the series just to see if it gets better, but this one so far is not a keeper.
A really good cozy mystery. I really liked the interaction between the two sisters. I would enjoy reading more of this series and author.